Ever since I arrived here at Bronco (Britain’s brightest search engine marketing company – sign up today!) it’s been bugging the hell out of me that a post (now deleted) on Dave’s blog ranks for ‘link building’. Not that it’s atrocious or anything, but it’s titled as “top 20 tips” and stops after 4 and for that reason alone it itches like a phantom limb. And despite that it has attracted 60 comments, lots of whom look like they were hoping to get a link out of it. If I wasn’t balding, I’d be tearing out my hair.
Anyway, because the world is just crying out for yet another link building guide, here’s my own updated take so it’s off my chest and I can go make a cuppa in peace.
- Say something interesting.
You’d think this was a no-brainer in 2009, but I still see lots of people thinking that hiring a new sales person is interesting enough to warrant a press release. It isn’t. The real key is being prepared to go off-brand. If your marketing/brand guys throw their hands up in horror at the thought of not using the right “corporate tone”, then you can probably discount this. Your loss.
- Subtly draw attention to the interesting things you’re saying.
You can do this chicken/egg or egg/chicken. Up to you. But if something’s happening in your market, make a point of finding someone else’s content and disagreeing with it. Leave a comment about how you disagree. Chances are you get a nofollowed link from the comments but what you’re actually after is people reblogging the “dispute,” quoting and linking to you as they do so. If you’d prefer to drive the debate, land the first blow with something humourous or unconventional in its take on things. Some unkind souls have suggested that Powazek’s hissy fit a couple of weeks back was nothing more than this principle made flesh. So his name carries bad vibes in the SEO community? Big deal. He’s still got those links – and remember, that’s what we’re after here.
- Tangential markets.
You sell guttering. There is no great demand for content about guttering. Guttering’s dull. But people are very much into DIY. It’s an old lesson, but find out what people are asking and use your site to answer it. Yahoo Answers, forums and even Facebook are good starting points.
It’s pretty bad that the directory model is still with us and very, very few directories offer equity but there’s still a couple of reasons to do it. Firstly, you can throw some sand in the eyes of other people looking at your backlinks but also it’s really the only “legitimate” way to build volume outside train scripts and all that horrible crap we’ve all been trying to get away from for the last few years.
- Buy links.
Yeah. I know. Google says ‘no’ – I’m just putting it out there as an option. Sites sell advertising, which is a legitimate way for them to monetise their properties. Buying that advertising in an SEO friendly format is a win-win all round. Just don’t send a crappy, ungrammatical email reading “Hi! I’d like to buy a links from your great budgerigar websites.” Tertiary stuff, but you and I both know its happening right now in your market and you can fight it within ‘the rules’.
- Content networks.
Mass content building is an expensive game for the long haul – but if you want niche content that your competitors can’t get at, it’s still a good proposition.You can use all kinds of strategies to linkbuild to these sites, knowing that they’ll act to protect your target sites in case anything goes bad. But proper content and domains – with all the management and quality control that entails – isn’t the cheap option. Don’t scrape. Don’t copy. Don’t cheat.
- Think demographics.
If you are buying advertising on other sites, chances are there’s not too much available in your market. Frankly, you’ll probably find it stuffed with affiliates, splogs, bloody articles and so-so press releases. So step back, consider who might use your product and think about where else you might find them. Whole new vistas of opportunity should open up when you realise that, for example, people who go to psychics are also prone to cat ownership (I’m just saying).
- Don’t discount the nofollow links.
Which sounds more “natural” to you? A site with 3000 followed links or a site with 2400 nofollowed links and 600 followed? Well, duh.The infrastructure of the web is being subtly changed by the nofollow attribute. If your links don’t include a proportion of nofollows you could easily end up on Google’s radar. Just a thought. Also, nofollows can mean traffic, traffic can mean links. Don’t think everything has to be a clean, anchor text link all you’ll burn your options inside a month. If you’re building links, you need to reach people – and mostly they couldn’t give a fig whether your blog comment was nofollowed. They’ve probably got a life, for one thing.
- Competitor backlinks
Chasing your competitors is often a zero-sum game. They got there first, and ‘me too’ doesn’t count for anything. But who knows – maybe they’ve had some smart ideas. Even if emulating them is a dull idea, researching what they’ve done should spark new – and hopefully better – ideas for you. You’ve probably also got out of date data. If they had a link 4 months ago, they might not have renewed and its an opening for you.
- Niche sites
Quite often a hobbyist website, personal blog or similar exists that touches on your niche. To find them, look for ideas around what you’re selling. Stay away from obvious keywords when you’re looking for these sites. If you’re in the cruise market, searching for “cruise blog” is just going to bring up 9 million competitor splogs. Search for “my disastrous honeymoon” and you might, if you get lucky, find a woman who spent her honeymoon on the notorious Poseidon cruise of 1977. Actually getting the link might be a trickier proposition. That’s something you can’t cover in a ‘one size fits all’ guide, so you’re on your own there 😉
- Trackbacks and pings
Found some great related content on a blog? Have a look through previous posts and see if trackbacks are enabled. If they are, dob them a link in a post and get one straight back.
- Satellite sites
If you’re pumping out the content, there’s nothing wrong with putting it on Squidoo, Hubpages etc. In terms of link equity, it’s worth diddly, but it does add relevancy and volume. Also, AdSense and Kontera for the hard up.
- Pagerank can mean nothing
Ask for demographic information, traffic numbers and look for low-quality danger signals such as heavy sitewide anchor text links
- Look before you leap
Contacting a belligerent site owner with a track record for outing advertisers is a PR disaster waiting to happen. It takes five minutes to judge the kind of site owner you’re dealing with – and those five minutes could be the difference between you getting outed as a linkbuyer or stepping up a notch in the SERPs.
- Share some good resources
Another oldie-but-a-goldie is to bring together a tonne of useful info on a subject into once place. There’ll be an industry ombudsman… a BBC page… something on Wikipedia and some humourous stuff in almost any field you care to name. Pull it together with some added-value commentary and people will link to you as an easy way to avoid writing the piece themselves.
- Use social media to spread the word
Twitter, Facebook and everywhere else might use the nofollow attribute like a crazy kind of anti-link condom, but if you’re looking to get the word out on your great content or unique proposition, use them as much as you can. The end game isn’t a redirected, nofollowed, 301d piece of link junk from Twitter, but a nice clean link from a follower or two.